All vertebrates, including humans, have two kinds of immune systems. The first is the innate system, which responds quickly to attacks by microscopic invaders with a variety of chemicals like mucous physical barriers like hair and skin, and disease-munching cells called macrophages. The second line of defense is an adaptive system that produces both “killer” T cells to attack the pathogen and antibodies custom-made to fight specific bacteria or viruses. The two systems work together to fight infections and prevent disease. But in a study published Thursday in the journal Science, researchers from Germany’s Max Planck Institute and the University of Washington found that many anglerfish species (there are more than 300) have evolved over time to lose the genes that control their adaptive immune systems, meaning that they can’t create antibodies and lack those T cells.
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